Author: Kate Elizabeth Russell

I found this book as it was published earlier this year and it has become a very popular read in a short amount of time is been out for the public.

Well, my first comment about this book is that I don’t think I was ready to read it, it is an extremely hard read that crawled under my skin, but as it relates a hard topic I guess it was meant to do exactly that.

The story is about the abusive relationship between Vanessa Wye and Jacob Strane. A 15-year-old girl and her English teacher, who is 42-years-old by the time they met. As she was a lonely girl, she became the perfect victim for him to groom. What started as a minor interest and attraction from her part quickly became a sexual relationship that trapped her. The novel moves back and forward between the years when the abuse started to the present to show how that abuse still affects her life.

For me, what is interesting about this book is the phycology of the abuse, Russell is great in telling all the events from Vanessa’s perspective and you can see how she fell for her abuser. She romanticized and justified every event as correct even the most twisted and disturbing ones. An initial quote for the book sets the tone of the story:

   “When Strane and I met, I was fifteen and he was forty-two, a near-perfect thirty years between us. That’s how I described the difference back then – perfect. I loved the math of it, three times my age, how easy it was to imagine three of me fitting inside him: one of me curled around his brain, another around his heart, the third turned to liquid and sliding through his veins.”

Strane is portrayed as a predator, an abusive and manipulative man that was able to do everything he wanted with Vanessa. Being very good with words, he was able to change and mold her perspective about everything. He reached her brain and inserted everything he wanted in there, shaped her into something she never asked to be, which resulted in a very conflicted woman.

This book had me frustrated, sad, disgusted, angry… but I know that if a book can give such strong emotions is one that is very well written, and I praise the author for that. The events are narrated in great detail which meant that sometimes I had to stop because it was a bit too much.

Towards the end, the book got a bit too long, and what I personally didn’t understand why Vanessa’s character didn’t evolve or grow at all. I’m guessing that the author wanted to portray what abuse can do to your mind in the long run, but in a fictional story, you will expect a bit of personal growth for the main character which I saw very little.

Another thing I definitely not enjoyed was the ending, it was underwhelming for me. It provided a light of hope, but it had no clear purpose, I wanted and expected more from it.

Overall, this is a book that is incredibly well written. However, it is a disturbing read that I wouldn’t recommend if you don’t like dark and unsettling stories. I personally, if I could go back in time and unread it, I would.